Sopwith Camel

Sopwith Camel

:"This article describes the fighter plane. For the 1960s psychedelic rock music band, see Sopwith Camel (band)."infobox Aircraft
name = Sopwith 2F.1 Camel
type = Biplane fighter
manufacturer = Sopwith Aviation Company

caption = A Sopwith Camel at the Imperial War Museum, London
designer =
first flight = December 1916
introduction = June 1917
retired =
status =
primary user = RFC (RAF)
more users = RNAS, AAF
produced =
number built = 5,490
unit cost =
variants with their own articles =

The Sopwith Camel was a British World War I single-seat fighter biplane, famous for its maneuverability.

Design and development

Intended as a replacement for the Sopwith Pup, Bruce 22 April 1955, p.527.] the Camel prototype first flew in December 1916, powered by a 110 hp Clerget 9Z. Known as the "Big Pup" early on in its development, the aircraft was armed with two .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns mounted in the cowl, firing forward through the propeller disc. A fairing surrounding the gun installation created a hump that led to the name Camel. The top wing was flat - but the bottom wing had dihedral, so that the gap between the wings was less at the tips than at the roots. Approximately 5,490 units were ultimately produced. Bruce 1955, p. 563.]

Operational history

The type entered squadron service in June 1917 with No. 4 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service, near Dunkirk. The following month, it became operational with No. 70 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps. By February 1918, 13 squadrons were fully equipped with the Camel.

Unlike the preceding Pup and Triplane, the Camel was not considered pleasant to fly. The Camel owed both its razor sharp manoeuverability and its difficult handling characteristics to the grouping of the engine, pilot, guns, and fuel tank within the first seven feet of the aircraft, coupled with the strong gyroscopic effect of the rotary engine.

The Camel soon gained an unfortunate reputation with student pilots. The Clerget engine was particularly sensitive to fuel mixture control, and incorrect settings often caused the engine to choke and cut out during takeoff. Many crashed due to mishandling on takeoff when a full fuel tank affected the center of gravity. In level flight, the Camel was markedly tail-heavy. Unlike the Triplane, the Camel lacked a variable incidence tailplane. The pilot was therefore required to apply constant forward pressure on the control stick to maintain a level attitude at low altitude. However the machine could also be rigged in such a way that at higher altitudes it could be flown "hands off." A stall immediately resulted in a spin and the Camel was particularly noted for its vicious spinning characteristics.

The Camel was, however, a superlative fighter, and offered heavier armament and better performance than the Pup and Triplane. In the hands of an experienced pilot, its manoeuvrability was unmatched by any contemporary type. Its controls were light and sensitive. The Camel turned rather slowly to the left which resulted in a nose up attitude due to the torque of the rotary engine, but turned very sharply to the right which resulted in a nose down attitude. Many pilots preferred to turn left by turning 270 degrees to the right. Because it was tail heavy, the plane also looped quickly. Agility in combat made the Camel one of the best remembered Allied aircraft of the First World War. It was said to offer a choice between a "wooden cross, red cross and Victoria Cross." Together with the S.E.5a, the Camel helped to wrest aerial superiority away from the German Albatros fighters. The Camel was credited with shooting down 1,294 enemy aircraft, more than any other Allied fighter.

Major William Barker's Sopwith Camel (serial no. "B6313", the aircraft in which the majority of his victories were scored, [Ralph, Wayne. "Barker VC: The Classic Story of a Legendary First World War Hero". London: Grub Street, 1999. ISBN 1-902304-31-4.] ) became the most successful fighter aircraft in the history of the RAF, shooting down 46 aircraft and balloons from September 1917 to September 1918 in 404 operational hours flying. It was dismantled in October 1918. Barker kept the clock as a memento, although he was asked to return it the following day.

By mid-1918, the Camel was approaching obsolescence as a fighter, limited by its slow speed and comparatively poor performance over 12,000 ft (3,650 m). It found a new lease of life as a ground-attack aircraft and infantry support weapon. During the German Offensive of March 1918, flights of Camels harassed the advancing German Army, inflicting high losses (and suffering high losses in turn) through the dropping of 25lb (11 kg) Cooper bombs and ultra-low-level strafing. The protracted development of the Camel's replacement, the Sopwith Snipe, meant that the Camel remained in service until the Armistice.

In summer 1918, a 2F.1 Camel (N6814) was used in trials as a parasite fighter under Airship "R23"


The Camel was powered by a variety of rotary engines during the production period.
*130 hp Clerget 9B Rotary (standard powerplant)
*140 hp Clerget 9Bf Rotary
*110 hp Le Rhone 9J Rotary
*150 hp Bentley BR1 rotary (gave best performance - standard for R.N.A.S. machines)
*100 hp Gnome Monosoupape 9B-2 Rotary
*150 hp Gnome Monosoupape 9N Rotary

Engine variants

*With rotary engines, the crankshaft remained fixed while the cylinders and attached propeller rotated around it. The result of this torque was a significant "pull" to the right. In the hands of an experienced pilot, this characteristic could be exploited to give exceptional manoeuvrability in a dogfight. A 3/4 turn to the right could be done in the same time as a 1/4 turn to the left.
*The Gnome "mono" engines did not have throttles and were at full "throttle" while the ignition was on - they could be "throttled" with a selector switch which cut the ignition to some of the cylinders to reduce power for landing. The Clerget, Le Rhone and BR1 had throttles, although reducing power involved simultaneously adjusting the mixture and was less than straight forward, so that the practice was common during landing of "blipping" (turning the ignition off and on) using a control column-mounted ignition switch, (blip switch) to reduce power.

opwith Camel F.1

*Single-seat fighter ("scout") aircraft.
*The main production version. Armed with twin synchronised Vickers guns.

opwith Camel 2F.1

*Shipboard fighter scout aircraft.
*Slightly shorter wingspan
*One Vickers gun replaced by an overwing Lewis
*Bentley BR1 as standard

opwith Camel "Comic" Night fighter

Pilot seat moved to rear. The twin Vickers guns were replaced with two Lewis guns firing forward over the top wing on Foster mountings. Served with Home Defence Squadrons against German air raids. The "Comic" nickname was of course unofficial, and was shared with the night fighter version of the Sopwith 1½ Strutter.


*Version with tapered wings.

(Trench Fighter) T.F.1

*Experimental trench fighter.
*Downward angled machine guns
*Armour plating for protection

(See also Sopwith Salamander)


*Australian Flying Corps
**No. 4 Squadron AFC in France.
**No. 5 (Training) Squadron AFC in the United Kingdom.
**No. 6 (Training) Squadron AFC in the United Kingdom.
**No. 8 (Training) Squadron AFC in the United Kingdom. ;BEL
*Belgian Air Force;flag|Canada|1868
*Canadian Air Force;EST
*Estonian Air Force;flag|Greece|old
*Hellenic Air Force;LVA
*Latvian Air Force;NLD
*Royal Netherlands Air Force;POL
*Polish Air Force operated 1 Camel post-war (1921);SWE
*Swedish Air Force;UK
*Royal Flying Corps / Royal Air Force
**No. 3 Squadron RAF
**No. 17 Squadron RAF
**No. 28 Squadron RAF
**No. 37 Squadron RAF
**No. 43 Squadron RAF
**No. 44 Squadron RAF
**No. 45 Squadron RAF
**No. 46 Squadron RAF
**No. 47 Squadron RAF
**No. 50 Squadron RAF
**No. 51 Squadron RAF
**No. 54 Squadron RAF
**No. 61 Squadron RAF
**No. 65 Squadron RAF
**No. 66 Squadron RAF
**No. 70 Squadron RAF
**No. 71 Squadron RAF
**No. 73 Squadron RAF
**No. 75 Squadron RAF
**No. 78 Squadron RAF
**No. 80 Squadron RAF
**No. 81 Squadron RAF
**No. 89 Squadron RAF
**No. 94 Squadron RAF
**No. 112 Squadron RAF
**No. 139 Squadron RAF
**No. 143 Squadron RAF
**No. 150 Squadron RAF
**No. 151 Squadron RAF
**No. 152 Squadron RAF
**No. 155 Squadron RAF
**No. 187 Squadron RAF
**No. 188 Squadron RAF
**No. 189 Squadron RAF
**No. 198 Squadron RAF
**No. 201 Squadron RAF
**No. 203 Squadron RAF
**No. 204 Squadron RAF
**No. 208 Squadron RAF
**No. 209 Squadron RAF
**No. 210 Squadron RAF
**No. 212 Squadron RAF
**No. 213 Squadron RAF
**No. 219 Squadron RAF
**No. 220 Squadron RAF
**No. 222 Squadron RAF
**No. 225 Squadron RAF
**No. 230 Squadron RAF
**No. 233 Squadron RAF
**No. 273 Squadron RAF
*Royal Naval Air Service
**No. 1 Squadron RNAS
**No. 3 Squadron RNAS
**No. 4 Squadron RNAS
**No. 6 Squadron RNAS
**No. 8 Squadron RNAS
**No. 9 Squadron RNAS
**No. 10 Squadron RNAS
**No. 13 Squadron RNAS;flag|United States|1912


There are only seven authentic Sopwith Camels left in the world, with one in the United States. It can be found at the Aerospace Education Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Another one, beautifully restored to near-flying condition, is at the Brussels Air Museum Restoration Society (BAMRS) in Belgium. An example of a model F.1 can be found at the Polish Aviation Museum. The Camel which is on display in the Polish Aviation Museum, serial number B 7280, at first flew in Royal Naval Air Service and then in the Royal Flying Corps. Two pilots who flew this aircraft shot down 11 German planes in total. N6812, the Sopwith 2F1 Camel flown by Flight Sub Lieutenant Stuart Culley when he shot down Zeppelin L 53, is preserved at the Imperial War Museum in London.N8156 (RAF) is currently on display at the Canadian Aviation Museum. Manufactured in 1918 by Hooper and Company Ltd., Great Britain, it was purchased by the RCAF in 1924 and last flew in 1967. It is currently on static display. [ [ Sopwith 2F.1 Camel — Canada Aviation Museum ] ] .

A replica Sopwith Camel can be found at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. A replica is currently under construction by the Northern Aeroplane Workshops for the Shuttleworth Collection [ [ Shuttleworth Collection] ] , and another is under construction at the Great War Flying Museum.

pecifications (F.1 Camel)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop
ref=Quest for Performance [Loftin, LK, Jr. [ "Quest for Performance: The Evolution of Modern Aircraft. NASA SP-468".] Retrieved: 22 April 2006.]
length main=18 ft 9 in
length alt=5.71 m
span main=26 ft 11 in
span alt=8.53 m
height main=8 ft 6 in
height alt=2.59 m
area main=231 ft²
area alt=21.46 m²
empty weight main=930 lb
empty weight alt=420 kg
loaded weight main=1,455 lb
loaded weight alt=660 kg
max takeoff weight main=
max takeoff weight alt=
more general=

  • Zero-lift drag coefficient: 0.0378
  • Drag area: 8.73 ft² (0.81 m²)
  • Aspect ratio: 4.11

  • engine (prop)=Clerget 9B
    type of prop=9-cylinder Rotary engine
    number of props=1
    power main=130 hp
    power alt=97 kW
    max speed main=115 mph
    max speed alt=185 km/h
    stall speed main=48 mph
    stall speed alt=77 km/h
    range main=300 mi ferry
    range alt=485 km
    ceiling main=21,000 ft
    ceiling alt=6,400 m
    climb rate main=1,085 ft/min
    climb rate alt=5.5 m/s
    loading main=6.3 lb/ft²
    loading alt=30.8 kg/m²
    power/mass main=0.09 hp/lb
    power/mass alt=150 W/kg
    more performance=
  • Lift-to-drag ratio: 7.7
    guns=2× 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns

    Popular culture

    The Camel appears in literature and popular media as:
    * The single-seater scout plane flown by the Royal Flying Corps Squadron in the semi-autobiographical, First World War air combat book "Winged Victory" written by Victor Maslin Yeates.
    * The fighter flown by Biggles in the novels by W.E. Johns during the character's spell in 266 squadron during the First World War. He also wrote a book, "The Camels Are Coming".
    * The "plane" of Snoopy in the Peanuts comic strip, when he imagines himself as a First World War flying ace and the nemesis of the Red Baron. The Red Baron frequently shoots him down, and in fact, Snoopy was forced to wash dishes once for "losing too many Sopwith Camels". The "Sopwith Camel" is actually his doghouse. The Camel's dedicated mechanic was none other than Woodstock, and the ground crew was Snoopy's bird friends. (When Marcie asked Snoopy "midflight" why his plane was so clean, Snoopy replied, "I have a dedicated mechanic." The punch line was that Woodstock sprayed Marcie with a hose just at that moment.)
    * The type of aircraft flown in the First World War by John and Bayard Sartoris in William Faulkner's "Flags in the Dust". Under fire from a pupil of Richthofen (the Red Baron), John's Camel caught fire over occupied France. Bayard's last sight of his twin brother was of John jumping out of his fighter feet first. Faulkner also wrote about the Camel (and Sartoris) in his famous story All the Dead Pilots.
    * Bartholomew Bandy flies a Camel in the first "Bandy Papers" book by Donald Jack, "Three Cheers for Me".
    * subLOGIC Flight Simulator featured the Sopwith Camel in Flight Simulator II. (Before Flight Simulator was licensed to Microsoft).
    * Microsoft Flight Simulator Series featured the Camel in versions FS3.0, FS4.0, FS5.0, FS5.1, FS95, FS98, FS2000, and FS2002.
    * First Eagles a WW1 combat simulator by Thirdwire features the Camel F1 in three different versions (110hp,130hp and 150hp)

    ee also

    similar aircraft=
    * Fokker Dr.I
    *Albatros D.V
    *Fokker D.VII
    * List of aircraft of the Royal Air Force
    see also=
    * Clayton & Shuttleworth




    * Bruce, J.M. [ "Sopwith Camel: Historic Military Aircraft No 10: Part I."] "Flight", 22 April 1955, pp. 527–532.
    * Bruce, J.M. [ "Sopwith Camel: Historic Military Aircraft No 10: Part II."] "Flight", 29 April 1955. pp. 560–563.
    * Sturtivant, Ray and Gordon Page. "The Camel File". London: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1993. ISBN 0-85130-212-2.
    * Winchester, Jim, ed. "Sopwith Camel." "Biplanes, Triplanes and Seaplanes" (Aviation Factfile). London: Grange Books plc, 2004. ISBN 1-84013-641-3.

    External links

    * [ Sopwith Camel]
    * [; Sopwith Camel images at]
    * [ Camel photos and links to museums with Camels]
    * [ Canadian Aviation Museum Camel]

  • Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

    Игры ⚽ Нужно решить контрольную?

    Look at other dictionaries:

    • Sopwith Camel — Camel Sopwith F.I Camel. Tipo Avión de caza Fabricante …   Wikipedia Español

    • Sopwith Camel — Sopwith Camel …   Deutsch Wikipedia

    • Sopwith Camel — Vue de l’avion …   Wikipédia en Français

    • Sopwith Camel — У этого термина существуют и другие значения, см. Sopwith. Sopwith 2F.1 Camel …   Википедия

    • Sopwith Camel (band) — Sopwith Camel was a rock music band associated with the San Francisco psychedelic rock scene of the late 1960s.CareerThe band formed in late 1965 [ Sopwith Camel.htm] and their lineup consisted of vocalist and… …   Wikipedia

    • Sopwith Camel (Band) — Sopwith Camel war eine 1966 in San Francisco gegründete Popgruppe. Man kombinierte psychedelische Westcoast Fragmente mit Pop und Rock n Roll Rhythmen zu Good Time Music . Sopwith Camel traten u.A. im Vorprogramm von Jefferson Airplane und den… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

    • Sopwith F.1 Camel — Sopwith 2F.1 (Marineversion) Die Sopwith F 1 Camel ist ein Doppeldecker und gilt als das erfolgreichste britische Jagdflugzeug des Ersten Weltkrieges. Sie wurde von der Sopwith Aviation Company entwickelt und gebaut. Mit ihr gelang alliierten… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

    • Sopwith F-1 — Sopwith 2F.1 (Marineversion) Die Sopwith F 1 Camel ist ein Doppeldecker und gilt als das erfolgreichste britische Jagdflugzeug des Ersten Weltkrieges. Sie wurde von der Sopwith Aviation Company entwickelt und gebaut. Mit ihr gelang alliierten… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

    • Sopwith Snipe — Sopwith Snipe, Salamander y Dragon Saltar a navegación, búsqueda El Sopwith Snipe y sus desarrollos Salamander y Dragon fueron aparatos biplazas de caza y ataque al suelo. Utilizado por la RAF a partir del verano de 1918, fue concebido como… …   Wikipedia Español

    • Sopwith Triplane — Réplica de un Sopwith Triplane con matrícula G BWRA. Tipo Caza Fabricante …   Wikipedia Español

    Share the article and excerpts

    Direct link
    Do a right-click on the link above
    and select “Copy Link”